NYSUT rallying for 55-25 retirement,
channels 1844 campaign slogan.
Americans are living longer, but you would think the opposite listening to the teacher unions demand early retirement with fewer years of service to earn near full pension benefits.
The teacher unions are fresh from getting a Christmas gift from the state legislature in December, when it granted teachers an earlier retirement age than other public employees, 57 rather than 62, in the newly-established Tier 5 public employee retirement system for new hires. The Chalkboard discussed this issue at the time (here).
NYSUT wants more. The Tier 5 law included a "legislative intent" to enact an even earlier retirement option this year. The union is demanding this earlier retirement option with near full guaranteed pension benefits at the age of just 55 years old with only 25 years of service ("55-25"). Not to worry, says NYSUT Executive V.P. Andrew Pallotta, there is "no financial hardship on the state" for granting this early retirement. Mr. Pallotta requested this early retirement option during his presentation at the legislature's hearing this week on the Governor's Executive Budget proposal.
Downside of Early Retirement Incentives
The cry for 55-25 is purportedly designed to get older, higher-paid teachers to retire in order to save money and avoid layoffs of newer, younger and lower-paid teachers that could result from the state school aid reductions. There are two big problems with this: 1) children lose more experienced teachers; and 2) school district pension obligations to the teacher retirement system increase by having to pay retirement benefits sooner to more retirees. Actually, there is a third problem: this demand comes off as greedy and self-serving by the union.
NYSUT's demand for 55-25 makes for a great rallying cry to its membership, with a historical echo of the 1844 presidential campaign of James K. Polk. Polk ran on the slogan of "54-40' or Fight!" during the dispute with British Canada over the Oregon Territory, where he demanded the U.S. northern border just above 54 degrees latitude. After his election, President Polk settled for a U.S. northern border at the 49th parallel in the Treaty of Oregon in 1846. War was averted (at least in the north).
President James Polk
NYSUT blustering like President Polk in the heat of a campaign could turn badly for New York. The state--meaning its students--needs quality and experienced teachers. We shouldn't be trying to make it financially worthwhile for them to leave sooner, while making future pension obligations more costly.
for The Chalkboard
(see me Twitter @ PeterMurphy26)
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